Andrew Carruthers shares observations and discoveries from his own path away from the chair.

Andrew Carruthers shares observations and discoveries from his own path away from the chair.

Photo: Andrew Carruthers

Working as a hairdresser is such an incredible career. Many people thrive in the position of “service provider” throughout their lifespan in the industry.

There is also a significant group that find they eventually are ready for a transition away from the chair. It could be the stress levels, it could be that their body is no longer tolerating the long days standing in challenging body positions, and the big one I’ve heard more and more lately is that they find themselves called to a new way of supporting others. 

 It seems that the transition from hair artist to coach, mentor, leader, consultant, and even healer is becoming more widespread every day and it’s a beautiful calling. It can also be a very challenging metamorphosis mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually/energetically.

Naturally because I have made this transition within my own life, many of my one-to-one coaching clients are embarking on a similar pursuit. I’ve seen some patterns within the challenges that people face on this journey and my offering to you is both the awareness of what could come up for you on your own path and some ways to navigate those twists and turns.

Transitioning from Working at the Chair to Supporting Others 

One of the traps that so many of us fall into is the impatience and hunger for change once we have made the choice to take action. Once the mind decides that this is “the move,” our instant gratification circuits kick in and a sense of urgency begins to weigh on us. We become convinced that life will be so much better once we achieve this new dream, and we want that result NOW. By the way, a lot of this is happening below our conscious awareness. We feel the impatience, yet we don’t understand the source.

The shift from producing an immediate visual result with every client to a career where results tend to be less apparent and often take longer stretches of time to achieve can also play games with our sense of purpose. Often, my coaching clients share that they struggle to feel like they are having as great of an impact as they did at the chair.

Let’s put this into perspective…

...a busy day in the salon could produce 6 to 10 joyous clients who are snapping selfies and telling us how awesome we are. A barber might have 20 of those experiences in a single day! All of this adds up to an epic dose of fulfillment to our need for purpose, our want for results, the endorphin rush of recognition, and the visual pleasure of seeing the beauty of our work walk out the front door.

This is not what happens 6-20 times a day as a coach, mentor, or leader.  Don’t get me wrong, when there are huge breakthroughs, it hits just as hard as that perfect fade or flawless bob, it’s just never going to be as “in your face” or as frequent as a day in the salon or barber shop. Again, this dissonance in our sense of purpose is not usually apparent without some deep internal exploration.

Your New Financial Realities

And one challenge that is likely apparent and top of mind is the financial disruption. Most who stay in the industry long enough to build a decent clientele find themselves in a position that the money is coming in consistently and for some, quite abundantly.  This new venture will likely take time, patience, and a few re-directions until that same security can be achieved. For me, the first two years I stepped fully into my independent practice were a bit sketchy at times. So how do we navigate these waters more skillfully?

On the level of mental, emotional, and spiritual/energetic turmoil, the two greatest gifts we can offer ourselves are awareness and acceptance. Awareness can come from daily practices like journaling, meditation, conscious physical practices (yoga, martial arts, even the gym can turn into a mindfulness practice), or just having a friend/partner/spouse that will allow us to talk through our experience regularly without judgement. This is also where a trained coach or therapist can be VERY beneficial because our experience can be originating from deep within the subconscious or unconscious portions of our being.

Stepping Into a New Purpose

Once we become aware, then we can step into acceptance which is really just removing our judgements from our experience. This is how we can find grace, patience, and compassion. In a state of acceptance, we will also have more potential for creativity and choice which are essential as we step into the unknown.

 These two steps will also help to support what I’m about to share around the financial piece. If you are not fiscally prepared to support yourself and your family for a significant amount of time without new income, please don’t jump off the building and quit your day job just yet. One of the greatest aspects of working at the chair is the level of flexibility that can be had.

Beginning the journey into the new career while having some safety and security can really protect your nervous system from going into anxiety mode. It is possible to be a hairdresser/barber AND aspiring coach all at the same time. I’ve watched quite a few eager and premature departures that resulted in coming back to the chair for some security and although I don’t see it this way, it’s difficult for people to feel like it’s not a step backward in those moments.

So, as exciting and urgent as this all might seem, some patience, grounding, awareness, acceptance, and a touch of creativity will go a long way in this evolution to a new chapter.

These are the observations and discoveries from my own path as well as many of my clients… that’s not to say that this is THE way, it’s just A way to consider. In the end, we must all discover what is “right” for ourselves.

Know that we are all here cheering you on and willing to offer support where we can.

Cheers to a beautiful journey,


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